Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where's Waldo 100k 2009

Warning, this is a very long race report and can induce insomnia if not careful.

Well, I ran Where's Waldo 100K for the 4th year in a row. This race is a good excuse to take a few days off from work and go see my sister as she lives near where the race is held. Oh, the race is held at the Willamette Pass Ski Area in central Oregon and is a fund raiser for the volunteer ski patrol there.

For the past 2 years the race has served as the USATF 100K Trail National Championship and 3 years ago it was the USATF 100K Trail Masters Championship. They also offer $1000 for first place and $500 for first place masters. You can double dip. Needless to say, for ultrarunning, this is significant prize money and draws a fast crowd every year. This year was no exception.

I like the race because it's well organized, the aid stations are well stocked and have enthusiastic volunteers working them, and the scenery is central Oregon beautiful. Think fir forests with some huge old growth Douglas Firs, perfect trails for running (soft, shady, pleasant), lots of gorgeous lakes to run past, and views from the top of the peaks that are fantastic.

My goal this year was to break the 14 hour mark. I ran 14:08 last year and figured I could take 8 minutes off that time. But I also didn't plan any sort of taper since that week would serve as my last week of long training prior to tapering for Wasatch in three weeks. So, 70 miles the week before and 100 miles including the race last week.

A couple of the other Wasatch Speegoats were there to run the race with me, but both of them are much faster than I am and much better looking (Monica Ochs and Amy Sproston). At just about every aid station I got comments about my Wasatch Speedgoat shirt and how there seemed to be a bunch of them on the course. Nope, just three of us. Nonetheless, it was nice to see that the team is getting recognition on the trail.

Weather on race day was perfect, 40's at the start, clear, warming up to the upper 60's to low 70's during the day and cooling off nicely towards the evening.

So, here's the report.

First Section, start to Gold Lake, 7.4 miles - the first mile is a grinding uphill that no ones runs. Takes you from 5120' to over 6000'. After that there's a 6.4 mile downhill that's fantastic. I got stuck in a conga line on that section until I managed to blast past the 6 runners in front of me. Pulled into the Gold Lake aid at 1:22 into the race, 2 minutes faster than last year. So far so good. I felt great.

Second Section, Gold lake to Fuji up, 5.0 miles - this is mostly uphill, some steep. Time was 1:08, same as last year.

Third Section, Fuji up to Fuji down, 2.5 miles - This section takes you on an out and back up to the top of Fuji Peak. This is a gain of about 1100' in 1.25 miles. The views at sunrise from the top of tis peak are worth the effort it takes to get there. Unbelievable. Then a bombing run back down to the aid station. Time 0:36, same as last year. So far, 2 minutes up on last year, feeling good and ready for more.

Fourth Section, Fuji Down to Mt. Ray, 5.6 miles - This section is primarily downhill, although it is rolling. A great little section for cruising along and enjoying the race. Time, 1:03, 1 minute faster than last year.

Fifth Section, Mt. Ray to Twins 1, 6.6 miles - This section is mostly uphill, but the ups are gradual enough that you can run them.. This is where I would see if my hill work would pay off, and it did. Time 1:28, 7 minutes faster than last year and still feeling good.

Sixth Section, Twins 1 to Lake Charlton, 4.9 miles - Starts out going up but the last couple of miles are downhill. Charlton lake is also the half way point. Huge hoopla, beach party atmosphere make this a great place. Time, 1:00, 1 minute faster than last year. Now I'm up 11 minutes over last year. Things are looking good.

Seventh Section, Charlton Lake to Road 4290, 5.2 miles - This section is mostly flat, but can be the hottest part of the course due to the exposure. This area was logged off several years ago and the trees growing there are fairly small. Time 1:05, 3 minutes faster than last year and up 14 minutes now. This section felt slower to me but it actually wasn't. Still, as I came into Rd 4290, I was hungry, the energy level was down some. I did have a drop bag and immediately drank the 2 Ensures I had, hmmm, maybe slamming 700 calories down in a couple of minutes isn't a smart thing to do.

Eighth Section, Rd 4290 to Twins 2, 7.5 miles - This is the longest section of the course and one of the most difficult. You climb from about 5300' to just over 7000' and it's relentless. Much of it is runnable if you're fresh, after 40 miles, no one is fresh. I left Rd 4290 and walked for a bit to let my stomach settle. Should have just taken the other bottle and drank it later. This section felt much slower than last year, but my time ended up being just a minute slower. Time, 2:03. Lost one of those gained minutes.

Ninth Section, Twins 2 to Maiden Peak, 5.2 miles - this section starts out going down, but in the last mile or so begins the climb up Maiden Peak. When I left Twins, I was feeling just ok, not great, just ok. I ended up walking downhill parts that I should have been running, stupid me, but I just didn't feel like running. I figure I was going thru a little bonk at this point, not enough calories, or maybe it was too much training, I don't know, it was something. Time 1:24 vs. 1:10 last year. Oh crap, I just lost all of the time I had gained so far, now I was a minute down from last year. Can I make it up?

Tenth Section, Maiden Peak to Maiden Lake, 5.1 miles - Easily the most difficult section of the course, you gain roughly 2000' in just over two miles. The grade starts out actually somewhat runnable but just gets steeper as you get higher. In some places there aren't even switchbacks, just straight up the mountainside, ugh! But once again, the view from the top of Maiden Peak (7818') is phenomenal and worth the effort. Then it's a treacherous steep downhill 2.5 miles into Maiden Lake, not much running here unless you have a death wish or want broken bones. Time, 1:45, dang, lost another 8 minutes. Now I really have to fly on the last section.

Last Section, Maiden Lake to the finish, 7.5 miles - this starts out with an uphill, but quickly turns downhill and ends up being a 7.4 mile downhill run. This is my favorite section of the course because if you can or want to open it up, you can. The trail is perfect for running, downhill with very short ups, great footing, if you fall you won't get hurt and you know the finish is up ahead. I tried pushing this some and actually felt pretty good, but the stomach was trying to go south on me and I'd have to back off the pace a little so I wouldn't hurl. Met up with another runner and we just cruised the last few miles together and crossed the finish at the same time. Time, 1:39 for this section, lost another 12 minutes.

Aftermath - The beer my wife got me after I finished tasted really good, but then a beer after a race usually does. The barbequed hamburger was pretty good too. My time was 25 minutes slower than last year, 14:33 vs 14:08. Oh well, I wasn't unhappy. Could I have done better? Probably, if I had put a little more focus on running where I could rather than walking. On the other hand, I did no taper, so maybe tired legs from a 28 mile run the previous Sunday had a little to do with a slow finish. Still, I had a great time and to me that's the name of the game. I love this sport, where else can you trash yourself and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Gear - I wore my La Sportiva Fireblades, Injinji socks, and Nathan race vest. The shoes and socks worked great, no blisters at all, which is unusual, and the vest worked well. I also carried two bottles like I usually do.

Note: The winning time and new course record was 9:11, that's an hour faster than the old course record, an hour! One minute per mile! Average pace 8:49 for 62.5 mountainous miles. 5 people went under the old course record.

Next up, Wasatch Front 100 in less than three weeks. Time to taper.